Maharashtra CM, ministers embark on ‘drought tours’

Mumbai, March 3 (IANS) In a bid to pre-empt an opposition onslaught in the coming Maharashtra assembly budget session, the chief minister and his ministers embarked on a daylong tour of some of the worst drought-hit regions, official sources said on Thursday.

Many of the 27 Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena ministers, including cabinet and ministers of state hailing from both the parties, apart from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have either left or were slated to leave for their respective destinations on Thursday to cover 29 sub-districts of Beed, Latur and Osmanabad among others.

The ministers will take stock of the grim water shortages that has severely hit the people in these areas of the dry Marathwada region and submit their detailed reports to Fadnavis.

They were expected to gather in Latur on Friday evening and Fadnavis will make a detailed review after considering the inputs and reports submitted to him.

The ministers will study the impact of shortage of water for drinking, irrigation or industrial purposes in rural and urban areas, cattle camps and availability of fodder for animals, damage to crops in some areas lashed by heavy rain and hailstorms earlier this week, disbursal of aid and relief materials, and response of the local administration to tackle the situation.

The ministerial tour comes amid a high profile five-day tour undertaken by Congress’ leader of opposition in the assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, who has attracted large crowds in several areas of drought-hit regions since Tuesday.

Pointing out that there were 244 farmland suicides in January alone, Vikhe-Patil demanded a complete loan waiver and other relief measures for the farmers, in his public meetings.

Following the ministerial tours, the BJP is likely to depute all its legislators and parliamentarians, besides state party office-bearers, to undertake similar tours and monitor relief works to help tide over the crisis till the next monsoon sets in after around 100 days.

The budget session of the Maharashtra assembly will begin in Mumbai on March 9.

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